storm chasers

We were watching Stormchasers tonight as a family (WHAT??  We’re from Tornado Alley, it’s in our blood!) and it struck me how incredibly upsetting it was to me.  Tonight’s episode got all the way up to the Joplin tornado (which, btw, none of the chasers caught) and I was so stressed I kept checking the time to see if it were close to the end of the show.   I know the ending this year.  It was quite memorable.  Once Joplin got hit, we were next.  I remember thinking, for the first time in a long time, that the severe weather season would never end.

  The severity and frequency of the tornados was really, incredibly rare and something I had never experienced in my lifetime.  I am unbelievably thankful for the meteorologists and chasers that risk their lives to keep us safe.  Their ability and willingness to keep their eyes on the storm and help us to understand the who, where, what and whens of a storm are great comfort to this mama of seven. 

Still, even with that comfort I find myself, for the first time I can remember in my life, dreading the thought of another storm season next spring.  Evidently “La Nina” is setting up again in the Atlantic (the same weather pattern in place for MUCH of the past year) so we could be facing blizzards, tornados, and drought yet again.   We do not yet have a tornado shelter, but after the season we lived through this year we will be getting one in time for the next storm season to hit.  The risk is too high not to have one. 

I love this state we live in, for all of the reasons that make it dangerous.  It’s so wildly unpredictable and extreme, which makes life interesting.  It’s a hostile environment with blazing sun, torrential rain, intense wind and temperature extremes that range from -27 degrees (last winter) to 117 degrees this summer.  It’s difficult to grow much of anything, so you know that anything that thrives here is quite tough!  There is no risk of “hot-house flowers” here. 

For all the reasons I love it, I have also learned to respect it.  There is no controlling this state.  We listen to the meteorologists when they tell us it will be at the corner of such and such in exactly 7 minutes.  We’re blessed with that technology!!  We get tornado shelters!  It’s worth it!  Just the peace of mind it allows is remarkable.  (yep.  We’ll be putting one in this spring!)

I was just struck by how a single TV show could affect me so completely.   I am thankful I live where I do, where warnings are given, usually with ample time to react, and, for the most part, they’re also heeded. 

Did I mention we were getting a tornado shelter this year??

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lovely

We were outside today, working on burning as much as could of the debris and dead trees we’ve accumulated over the summer, and heard the funniest thing.  Our roosters are crowing.  Seriously!  A legitimate “cock-a-doodle-doo”!!!  There was one in particular who was just crowing away while we were there.  Such a cool sound! 

Too bad they’ll be in a pot soon.

eta: I tried several times to go out and get a pic of my roosters.  Life kept getting in the way and, evidently, I have NO decent pics of them.  Here’s hoping for better luck tomorrow!

aaannnd on a lighter note…

Way back in March Joseph and I decided to take the plunge and research what it would take to get chickens.  Our sweet Michael has been bugging us about chickens since before we had moved into this house.  “Can we buy a house we can have chickens at???” We knew he would be thrilled, and the thought of fresh eggs was quite appealing.  I thought we would research for a year or two and then jump in, Joseph just figured that if we researched too long we wouldn’t do it so, one day, he just up and says “Okay, lets order them today.” 

So started our chicken journey. 

We decided to order them, via mail, from a large hatchery, and researched all the breeds we thought might be good.  We decided to get a dual purpose breed, one large enough to get a decent amount of meat and a good enough layer to get a decent number of eggs, and had decided on five breeds.   Five different breeds, minimum order of 25 day old chicks, and we bit the bullet and ordered them.  All of them.  Five Silver Laced Wyandottes, Five Delawares, Five Barred Rocks, Five Easter Eggers and Five Speckled Sussex.  (just in case you didn’t catch that, TWENTY FIVE chicks!!!!)  They were scheduled to arrive the first week of June, which gave us plenty of time to remodel the old shed into a chicken coop (I thought), and get a brooder area ready. 

When we got them I opened the box at the post office, only to find that twenty of the twenty-seven mailed to us were dead.  It was so depressing.  We ordered 25, plus the one free chick, plus the one they throw in there just in case, and only had six left.  They were DARN cute and we jumped right into making them right at home.  I called the hatchery and they insisted on attempting a second shipment vs refunding my money (I was really hoping for the money.  All of the sudden SIX seemed a much better deal than 25!) and was told we could expect the second shipment within the week. 

The second shipment came, complete with an extra FIVE Red Star rooster chicks thrown in there for safe shipping.  ROOSTERS.  Ugh. 

We grew them, they’ve been a joy to have!  We’ve worked on their coop (it took SO much longer than we thought, and we’re still not really done yet, but we’re getting there!) and now they are happy in their coop, with a covered run attached.  I am surprised at how attracted I am to these silly birds!  It is amazingly relaxing to just go down to the coop and watch them in their run.   The hens make this beautiful low rumbling sound “speaking” to one another and the roosters work very hard to protect their girls.  They love getting snacks, like popcorn or left over sausage.  They’re soft and sweet and lovely, and I hope we never stop raising them! 

We don’t have any eggs yet, don’t expect them until the end of this month, but can’t wait to get them!  (first, we probably ought to make nest boxes…)

Trust me.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Epictetus

Having a special needs child is a challenge on so many levels.  Having a special needs child that doesn’t LOOK special needs, even more so.  How about a high-functioning special needs kid with instinctive and educated parents?  Yeah.  It sucks.

We’ve followed our instincts.  We put him into occupational therapy when he was less than three years old.  We’ve worked with multiple therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.  We’ve carried over nearly every possible treatment into our home life we could easily manage.  Weighted blankets, weighted vests, “squishy” toys, fidgets, things to chew on, food and supplement changes to help with possible deficits that might arise, weekly OT sessions, social stories, visual schedules, volcano analogies, thermometer analogies etc etc and so on and so forth.  We have spent the past eight years of our lives educating and working toward a common goal: helping  him learn how to function in daily life. 

We know when things aren’t working.  By this point we know when he is slipping into a pattern of behavior and start taking steps to avoid circumstances that could possibly exacerbate issues further.  I know when to remove him from a noisy crowd just by glancing his way.  I know when it’s time to break from school so he can run laps around the house to move his large muscle groups and work out his place in time and space.  I know when he just needs to sit and veg so he can recoup and recover his thoughts.  I know long words with complicated meanings like “proprioception” and “neuro-typical” and I can use them correctly in a sentence.  Not because I have a friend who is a PT, but because I am driven to understand exactly what it is that my son is dealing with on a daily basis.  I can not have a functioning family if one of it’s members can not function.  I must know these things. 

All of these things, all of the accommodations and work that we do, we just do.  We don’t announce it to the world, we don’t shout from the roof tops that we’re doing it, we just do.  It’s how we roll.  The thing is, they’re work, and not a small amount of work.  I am “on” all day long, seven days a week.  Really, even most nights (as any parent would tell you).  I have to be completely aware of what is going on in my home and with my children all day.  I don’t have a babysitter for my special needs kid.  If I go out, or dh and I go on a date, big sisters are there to step in, mostly because they are the ones that understand the most.  I can’t talk to other people about my son without first speaking about his medical care/condition with people who have no need to know.  I can’t talk about my struggles raising a spectrum kid without risking someone judging my son.  I can’t speak about what our daily life is like because so many people want to “help” and they just don’t know how and they are unwilling to hear what we really need.

Funny thing, this whole spectrum disorder crap, everyone has seen a story on the news about it, or read a magazine article about it, or they’ve seen Rainman, and suddenly they know everything.  OR They don’t know anything and just can’t accept the fact that this isn’t “fixable” that we really are dealing with something that our son will have to work with for the rest of his life.  It makes for “opening up” to be much riskier than I am willing to mess with, most days.  I remember in the early days of working through this, before we had much of a diagnosis and life was chaotic at best, I tried to open up.  I tried to get the emotional support I needed from people I thought were friends.  It didn’t turn out well.  It ended with me being told I was not someone who one could be friends with.  I was, evidently, completely eaten away inside with anger and hate.  I needed to work on myself before anyone else could get close to me.  Thing was?  I was just relaying points of my life.  They weren’t the prettier points, but in that season, there weren’t many pretty points.  Life sucked.  I’m not saying we weren’t blessed, we weren’t alive and happy and joyful, but if you looked at our daily life you would not see a bed of roses.  I had an undiagnosed spectrum disorder kid.  Life was nuts.

I learned, very clearly, that this life that we are, indeed, BLESSED to live, is not one that people can easily look upon.  I learned that I needed to give the world the rose-colored glasses it required to see my family.  People give a lot of lip service to rebelling against the world’s current attitude about perfection.  They speak on and on about embracing the person God created you to be, BUT they fail to understand that what God has created is perfect, in His eyes.  They fail to see the beauty that comes in small victories and little breakthroughs.  What they see is their friend, hurting for her child, her children, her marriage, her home, her life, her loss of dreams, and what they know is that it needs to be fixed. 

Sadly, it can’t be.  For whatever reason, it can’t be fixed.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be helped.  That doesn’t mean that daily life can’t be made easier, if you know how.  It makes me chuckle a bit to think of how many people get frustrated to the point of anger at me because I am insistent they can’t “cure” this stupid disorder but flat refuse to listen to the things they can do to help us manage it.  Somehow, if there is no “cure” there is no “point” no hope.   If I say to you “we really shouldn’t be spending the night away from home.  It’s too much for my son.  It takes weeks, if not months, to get back into the swing of things and get him regulated afterward, however, please, come to my home.  It’s always open and you’re always welcome” I really do, in fact, mean exactly that.  No more, no less.  It’s just what it is.  Face value.  (an incredible gift we’ve been given with this boy of ours, seeing things at face value. )  What that does NOT mean is that you can take that piece of information and twist and turn it until you come up with something you think  you know would help because you’ve seen Rainman five times.  A good response isn’t “well, if he’s having that hard of a time I think maybe it’s best for him to just be home with you and his siblings.  That way we’re not disturbing anyone”

Please, please.  Just trust me.  I know. I’ve been here.  I’m doing this.  I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.  It’s my life work, this understanding this mysterious boy God has given me.  Please.  Listen when I tell you what we need, don’t try to interpret that for yourself.  Don’t spend hours on end quizzing me on things you’ve seen might have helped a celebrity once upon a time on a soap opera.  Please.  If you want me to open up to you.  If you want to be my “support” then, please, just be supportive.  Listen to me when I cry because I can’t fix my son.  Listen to me when he’s stuck in a loop about getting his clothes folded even though it’s an impossible task at the moment and he’s freaking out and I just need a quiet voice to tell me how amazingly wonderful he is.  Listen to me when I tell you how we can get together and when and why and don’t try to come up with a prescription on your own, for something you know nothing about.  Listen to me when I tell you it’s been a bad day, but I don’t want to talk about it.  Sometimes it’s just enough to know that someone will say “okay, I’m praying for you”

Trust me.

and love my boy.